Philippe Gilbert is planning to get married at the end of May to his partner, Bettina, before he returns his focus to winning races in the final season of his career.
Last Thursday, the Belgian riders ended a 966-day drought without a win on the third stage of the 4 Jours de Dunkerque to Mont-Saint-Éloi. He narrowly missed out on winning the fifth stage of the race, too, finishing fourth, behind Gianni Vermeersch (Alpecin-Fenix), Oliver Naesen (AG2R Citroën Team) and Jake Stewart (Groupama-FDJ).
This didn't stop him from securing the overall victory, though, his first stage-race win since the 2017 Classic Brugge-De Panne as he beat Naesen by four seconds.
Speaking after the 4 Jours de Dunkerque, Gilbert expressed his desire for the rest of his time as a professional cyclist - but first, he will marry his partner, Bettina.
“First I will get married later this month," Gilbert said. "But after that I am still very ambitious. I want to win even more.”
The Lotto-Soudal man came into the final day, a 182.9km ride from Ardres to Dunkirk, with a lead of four seconds. He claims the disappointment from stage five made him more stressed before setting off on the last stage, but the struggles he has faced in the last few years made the win even sweeter.
Matching the same finish time as stage six winner Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux), Gilbert was crowned the overall victor as his closest competitors weren't able to collect any additional bonus seconds.
“After the disappointment of missing the stage win yesterday [Saturday], I am very happy with this overall victory," Gilbert said. "I had some stress beforehand because it was a difficult local circuit.
“It is very rewarding. I have had two years with many problems and difficult moments. But I want to finish my career at the highest level. I've never forgotten what you have to do to get to that level. The Classics were difficult for me, because I was never able to train optimally due to illness.
“Luckily it worked out here, in better weather and with a slightly shorter race. Thanks also to our great team.”
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